Inside the cryptocurrency scam vortex

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An illustrated Dogecoin surrounded by warning signs.
Illustration by Maria Chimishkyan

On May 22nd, a crypto finance project called DeFi100 posted a message to its website: “We scammed you guys and you can’t do shit about it. HA HA. All you moon bois have been scammed and you can’t do shit about it.”

Screenshots of the message immediately went viral on crypto Twitter (always anarchic, easily risible). A popular anonymous crypto-tracking Twitter account called Mr. Whale estimated that DeFi100 had run off with $32 million. Cryptocurrency news outlets, as well as Yahoo Finance, ran with the number. The project owners denied any foul play, and it soon became clear the message was a website hack rather than a serious warning — but by then, it was too late. Panic had set in, and the price of the underlying coin was in free...

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